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warning from Zim's pale comrade
Mail & Guardian (SA)
September 28, 2009
On his website, Zimbabwean
rapper Samm Farai Monro, better known to his fans as Cde Fatso,
describes himself as "one of the most explosive and controversial
acts" in the region.
Farai is the Shona term
for "be happy" and in Zimbabwe today anyone called Farai
lands up with the nickname Fatso, whether he likes it or not. Cde
Fatso calls his genre "toyi-toyi poetry". His radical
street verse, mixing Shona with English and mbira with hip-hop,
is now taught at some universities in South Africa and Britain.
He is a white boy who
has excelled at a black art form. It makes one think of artists
such as the pale German ragga-inspired act Gentleman, the Italian
ragga DJ Alborosie and even world celebrity rapper Eminem.
Last year the 28-year-old
Cde Fatso and his band, Chabvondoka, launched their much-acclaimed
album, House of Hunger, referencing the novel by deceased radical
outsider Dambudzo Marechera. Not surprisingly, the album was banned
on Zimbabwean radio but was celebrated abroad. The Globe and Mail
in Canada described it as "undeniably alluring", whereas
others made comparisons to Chimurenga music icon Thomas Mapfumo.
The Mail & Guardian
put some questions to Fatso by email as he prepared for his gig
as part of the African Connections series of concerts at this year's
Arts Alive festival.
the revolution be televised?
When the revolution happens it will be authentically Zimbabwean
and will coincide with a power cut. So televising the revolution
will be somewhat difficult. But we will encourage comrades to send
out SMSes to the masses telling them "Frdm iz here. Lng liv
frdm!" So the revolution will be telephonic. We are just worried
that comrades may be too broke to afford airtime. However, we are
working on contingency plans involving smoke signals, beeping horns
and banging pots.
think ZBC, the national broadcaster, will agree to televise it?
ZBC is about as likely to broadcast the revolution as the ANC government
is to provide affordable social services. In other words, hell no!
So, I guess, against our will, we'd have to storm their studios
and televise it ourselves. With the help of a generator, of course,
because of the aforementioned power cut.
the history of the Zanu-PF revolution, is it wise to have another
Zanu-PF ended up merely taking over the master's house and painting
it black. We called it "independence" but it still had
the same repressive laws, the same centralised power, the same inequalities
within. Sure, some progress was made in the 1980s as the Zanu-PF
government made huge progress with education and health. Then they
implemented IMF/World Bank structural adjustment programmes in the
1990s, which took us back decades. So, to call Zanu-PF's ascendance
to government a revolution is like calling an orgy of violence an
should those who come to watch you expect?
A riot. An insurrection. The revolution on stage. When I and my
band, Chabvondoka, rip it up, it's an explosion of radical lyrics
and insurrectionary music. It's freedom fighters meets hip-hoppers.
Its Afrobeat meets chimurenga. It's a new generation of urban Africans
using music to inspire and incite the continent.
or a microphone?
I tried using an AK once on stage but found it too unwieldy -- bad
sound effects -- and mistakenly maimed a few members of the audience.
So I opted for a cordless mic instead.
word of advice to South Africans?
Watch out for the one-party state. Huge wealth gaps, massive unemployment,
privatised social services, endemic violence, profits before people,
aloof ruling class. It's a slippery slope, comrades.
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